September 15, 2002

Ooberman "Running Girl"

There's something really cool about Ooberman. From what I understand, they're a popular band in England, having received a lot of high praise from the masters of musical press over there. They've been making music for years, and have perfected their craft, much to the enjoyment of their growing fanbase. Of course, being a young, talented and popular British band can only mean they've never been heard of over here. Tragic, that. See, Ooberman are good. Really good. If this mini-album is any indication, then it may just be that Ooberman are secretly one of the most intelligent bands in England.

Running Girl starts off, appropriatly, with the title song. It's an interesting little number, with a neat little vocal trick that makes it oh-so-catchy. In fact, I think it's the great Radiohead song that they never wrote, or, more correctly, the hit they WOULD have written, had Thom Yorke developed some sense of social skills, and not decided to turn himself into a "serious artist" who decided not to make music that people would enjoy. Indeed, Ooberman are making serious music, but at least they're seemingly having a good time in the process.

After the initial blast of goodness, Running Girl makes a small slip by moving into "Flashing Lights at Sunset," a folksy number that puts a halt on the energy of "Running Girl." Luckily, it's the only acoustic folky number on the album, because it's a bit of a bore. While it's true that almost everything on Running Girl is folky, it's done in such an interesting way that it's not really a problem--becuase Running Girl is actually PROGRAMMED in an interesting way that makes the lesser songs seem not as weak. I'd even say that this is post-folk, building a new sound in this post-OK Computer world that we live in. At times, I felt a bit like I'm listening to a younger, hipper version of the Lilac Time, which isn't anywhere near being a bad thing.

Ooberman are post-jazz, post-rock, post-genre music for a mature generation. It's good to know that as I get older, that there are bands that are willing to eschew style and simply make good, enjoyable music that isn't aiming for any particular genre definition. Running Girl is the sound of a band creating and maturing in its own groove. More bands should practice what Ooberman are preaching. As this is an American version of a record that came out last year, there are two additional tracks added--"Dolphin Blue," a beautiful little number that deserved to be saved from obscurity, and a remix of "Running Girl" that sounds almost demo-like and isn't particularly interesting or rewarding. I'm glad they've taken the time to venture into America, and if Running Girl is any indication, theirs is a sound that'll be most welcome.

---Joseph Kyle

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